Signs the NHL lock-out is starting to bite

The 2009 Winter Classic: New Year’s Day’s planned Classic, hosted by Detroit, ain’t gonna happen.

So, as sure as the weather is shitty in New York right now, on Friday (American time)/Saturday (Australian time), the NHL will announce that the Winter Classic is cancelled for New Year’s Day, 2013. This is a crappy development, on many levels, except for the fact that it gives me another year to save up and try to get there in 2014, assuming Detroit still gets to host the Classic, if and when the NHL lock-out finally ends.

But the Winter Classic was always a signature event in terms of the lock-out, as it provides so much in terms of TV ratings, revenue and interest. Letting it slide away without doing a deal means the NHL owners and the players can now drift for the rest of the fast evaporating northern winter without doing a deal and playing some hockey. Yes, I’m calling it: season gone.

So at a time where Red Wings fans like me should be debating how our team is looking deep into the season, post-Lidstrom (The Perfect Human), whether Patrick Eaves will ever come back from concussion, what a genius Datsyuk is, and so on, the Joe Louis Arena is hosting public skating days and gathering cobwebs.

It sucks, and there are signs that the world is starting to unravel without the best hockey league in the world. Such as:

1. Vancouver shooting fans have embraced an offer to have NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as a target at a shooting range.

2. NHL.com is reduced to reviewing hockey films from two decades ago.

3. Starved of hockey, Manhattan folk have lost their minds as Hurricane Sandy blows out of town.

4. Some idiot decided to close the Elwood RSL Club, one of the better memories I have of hanging out in that suburb.

5. The Grand Rapids Griffins continue to attract a surprising amount of interest, as they head to Texas for a road trip. The Wings have just swapped out starting goalie Jordan Pearce for wunderkind Petr Mrazek, which is interesting in terms of Detroit’s future development.

6. Detroit Tigers fans, still hurting from being swept in the World Series, at least got to snigger when the parade for their conquerers, the San Francisco Giants, went horribly, horribly wrong. Like the manager’s car in the parade running out of petrol. No, really. It didn’t occur to the parade organisers to make sure cars had enough petrol to make it down a street?

7. People are doing weird things with pumpkins, in the name of Halloween.

I could go on … we really need to start watching some hockey. Damn you, NHL and, for the sake of fairness, NHLPA.

Me? I missed my Wednesday night dev league hit last night, to go and watch the Black Keys at the Myer Music Bowl. I loved it; partly because I’m just really into their music and have been from their first album, and secondly because I was pumped that they stripped back their sound, instead of adding 10 band members for a bigger sound. Big Cat being Big Cat, he spent the last few songs looking at his watch, calculating whether he could get home to grab his gear and still make the 11.15 pm dev league.

The Black Keys: a fine way to fill in those lock-out hours. Pic: Brisbane Times.

We didn’t and it was strange to wake on a Thursday morning without that post-dev league hockey hangover. I’m used to creaking around and lacking sleep on a Thursday. I’m not sure I like this don’t-actually-need-coffee-to-survive feeling.

To compensate for no dev league, I went for a skate yesterday afternoon, sneaking onto the smooth ice of the Henke Rink because the Bradbury Rink is being relaid. It was just me and eight or 10 skaters who looked to be total newbies, so I was able to really let myself go, skating as hard and fast as I could for 40 minutes. I felt fantastic; really concentrating on correct form, bending my knees, lower centre of gravity, pushing all the way with my stride. That pleasing crunch that digging a skate in provides. After feeling, post last weekend’s game, that I hadn’t moved well enough, hadn’t been mobile, I was intent on just trying to fly, and to skate sprints up and down the ice. I even found a few minutes at the end for backward crossover toiling, seeing as to how I wasn’t in the usual crowded general skate environment.

My slates are being sharpened today and I plan to get out there at least once more before Sunday’s game against a Jets team, to keep working my legs and feel comfortable on my blades when it matters. I think I need to hit Sunday’s game in a puck-hungry mood. Ready to hustle.

If only Bettman and his cronies had the same sense of urgency.

Oh well … crank the Black Keys on iTunes, and fill the non-Red Wings time with crappy internet reads like this. Nothing personal, Cindy, but I’d rather be reading about Zetterberg and Dats destroying defences.

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